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Ten Things to Do With Your Own Smartphone Besides Throwing it Away

Pile of Old SmartphonesMy first smartphone was an iPhone 3GS…well, actually prior to that, work gave me some godawful slide-to-open-the-keyboard stylus-based Windows Mobile brick a couple years before that but I wouldn’t exactly call that a smart phone.

The 3GS runs iOS 6 an 14 years later it still powers on (after I charge it with my iPod Classic cable).  I’m sure if I got a SIM card for it, it would still work as a cell phone.  But of course, I’ll never do that because I’ve got a more recent phone now than this 2009 beast.

So what do you do with it?  You probably have old smartphones as well.  If you’ve got some vintage kit gathering dust in your sock drawer, here are some suggestions of how to make this gear useful to you or someone else.

Trade it in: Some companies/carriers will give you a smartphone credit if you sign up for a new plan or device.  Of course, they’ll be delighted if you turned in last year’s model but often the fine print doesn’t distinguish.  And even if you don’t need a new phone, your girlfriend’s cousin’s uncle’s best friend might need one, and he might kickback some of the discount.

Sell it on eBay: Amazingly, a used iPhone 3GS still commands around $40.  Later phones like the 6s are about $70ish.  Sure, that’s hardly a dent in the price of a new iPhone or Pixel but it’s better than nothing.

Donate it: Here’s a link to a few charities that accept old cell phones.  Your old gear could help victims of domestic violence, wounded veterans, and other worthy causes.  Plus you may get a tax benefit.

Use it as a media player: I have an old iPhone 6s which I use to listen/watch in bed at night while my actual phone charges.  Although it doesn’t have a SIM card, it works just fine as an iPod (indeed, the old iPod Touch is simply an iPhone without a cell chip).

Use it as a camera or security cam: Likewise, a smartphone without cellular service still works fine as a camera.  You could setup a remote security cam, or get a motion trigger for a LowEndSecurityCam.

Play games: I don’t know about you, but there are some games that really burn battery.  If you’re heading somewhere where you won’t have easy charging, it might be better to toss an old phone in your bag than drain your main.

Get rich: You can mine crypto on your phone.  It works about as well as you’d expect but on the other hand the power bill isn’t going to bankrupt you and you don’t need a $10,000 GPU.

Make a hilarious Halloween costume: See this fun video by Mark Rober for an example.

Root it: Back in the day, jailbreaking your phone was trivial.  Big tech has since decided that such freedoms are dangerous, but if you’re still the sort who wants to control things down to the metal, you might have more flexibility with other gear.

E-waste it: If none of the above works for you, drop it off for ewaste.  This is better for the environment than just tossing it into a landfill.

Hope that helps, @Otus9051.


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